Sure, the folks on the outside looking in believe we are just down and dirty bikers. Yes, when we are out on the road getting our knees in the breeze to the untrained eye we all look like leathered-up and tattoo-ridden ruffians all riding the same sort of chrome-clad, loud-exhaust-chugging freedom machines living some sort of stereotype. And these people couldn’t be farther from the truth.
There are so many subsets of the lifestyle we live. Folks who ride baggers, club-style, bobbers, choppers, Sportsters, Softails, classics, Viclas, customs, Dynas, FXRs, street trackers, dirt trackers, hooligans, big front wheel, fat rear tire, performance baggers, and other styles of bikes all have different needs, wants, and loves for their bike and how they have personally customized it.
Even four-wheeled folks (and other types of motorcyclists) who think they know about the bikes we ride have no real clue of just how many different styles there are. It really is infinite when you think about it. And to compound it all, just add the style of bikes we choose to build with the engine choice, paint color, and plating, and then it takes it to a complete other level of individuality. And this is what I personally love about the whole custom motorcycle thing.
In our “category of motorcycles” there are many styles of bikes many even in our group dislike and do not understand. And that is more than fine. Difference is what makes us great and what has made this scene go on for more than half a century. But here’s the real deal, y’all: At the core, we as riders, fabricators, and customizers all respect the craftsmanship and commitment it takes to make a bike different than the rest on the dealer floor or at the local bike night.
I have heard it hundreds of times when at Sturgis, Daytona, or on the Hot Bike Tour: “It’s not my style, but it’s not my bike.” That is where the mutual respect we have for other builders and riders comes in. And this is also the reason we feature so many types of different custom bikes in every issue of Hot Bike. Variance is good and it also spawns controversy and creativity. That makes the next generation of custom bikes better than the one before it. And who really cares what other people think anyway? Am I right?
As I travel the world bringing you the newest and best in hand-fabricated bikes it has sunk in that there really are no rules anymore when it comes to a custom American V-twin-powered bike. Just look at the cover bike—a big-wheel stunt-bike bagger? What the hell was Jimmy Burnouts thinking? Take a peek at the Ken’s Factory bike leading the bike features in this issue. It’s a Japanese-built super Softail. If you didn’t see the bikes and just saw the sum of each of their parts on a build list, you would ask yourself who in the hell would build these types of bikes? And once you see them you can agree that the completed projects look great. And I like that.